A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a head injury that causes a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, jolt to the head or penetrating head injury. A head injury may be elevated to a TBI if there is a possibility of temporary or permanent impairment of cognitive, physical or psychosocial functions.
Signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury may appear immediately or they may emerge days, months or even years after the initial injury. At times a person may not associate symptoms with a TBI and some people will show little to no symptoms initially but may worsen over time. Symptoms will also depend on the type and severity of the injury.
Signs of internal bleeding as a result of an acute TBI may include bruising behind the ears or under the eyes and need immediate medical attention.
Other symptoms may include:
A TBI can be caused by any severe jolt or blow to the head that pushes the brain up against the skull and causes damage or bleeding in or around the brain.
This can be the result of:
Aside from the immediate effects of a major head or brain injury, TBI can lead to long-term complications such as:
In addition, severe complications with a TBI can lead to entering into a coma or long-term neurological problems and difficulties.
Diagnosis depends on the type and severity of the injury. Similar to non-traumatic brain injuries, diagnosis is usually quick but the prognosis can be much more complicated.
To identify a TBI, brain injury specialists commonly use the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), a 15-point test that measures a person’s level of consciousness, and brain injury severity by attempting to prompt body movements, eye movements and verbal response.
Imaging tests like CT scans and MRIs are also very common.
Mild TBIs may require little to no treatment other than over-the-counter pain medication, rest and monitoring for any aggravation of symptoms.
More severe injury treatment will depend on a number of factors but may include: